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Majestic wildflower display in Death Valley heralds a potential ‘super bloom’

Fields of flowers are blooming in Death Valley National Park, and Park Ranger Alan Van Valkenburg says they are the first signs of a rare 'super bloom.' (Video: YouTube/DeathValleyNP)

Death Valley’s usually barren landscape is springing to life in a rare display of green stalks, purple blossoms and field after field of yellow flowers. And it’s only expected to flourish.

“We hope [it] will become a ‘super bloom,’ which is beyond all your expectations. Those are quite rare, maybe once a decade or so,” said Park Ranger Alan Van Valkenburg in a video podcast series the National Park Service co-produces about Death Valley.

The last “super bloom” in Death Valley was in February 2005, the national park said on its Facebook page. While flowers fleetingly bloom in the park during many months of the year, it takes the “perfect storm” of conditions to create the massive wildflower blooms Death Valley has become famous for.

“There are so many seeds out there just waiting to sprout, just waiting to grow,” Van Valkenburg said. The blooms are near-impossible to predict and very short-lived, creating a mad scramble to see the normally barren area in a rare lush state once the many buds burst open.

The Park Service reports that the bloom is still “basically localized,” but it’s beginning to spread beyond the southeastern part of the park. And reports about the size of some of the plants are “mind-boggling,” according to park’s latest wildflower update. It describes “Jack-in-the-Beanstalk stems of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens)” and “Notchleaf Phacelia standing nearly three feet high.”

Van Valkenburg has lived in the park for 25 years, and said he’s “very excited” about the potential for a wildflower super bloom this year. “It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”